Feb 08 2012
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Green building technology gains ground in Saudi Arabia
As the largest market in the GCC at present, the Kingdom has more than $112.8 billion worth of projects expected in 2012, recent data showed.
Andy White, event director for The Big 5 Saudi Expo that will take place at Jeddah Centre for Forums & Events on March 10-13, said that despite some budget constraints, still such situation does not "prevent green products from being specified at the design stage even though a greener product will make considerable energy savings throughout the project life."
He added that "stricter green building regulations are slowly being implemented," too. Excerpts follow.
Serious challenges face the construction industry about new approaches on design, build, operate, and maintain buildings and infrastructure. Could you enumerate these major challenges and explain?
There are a growing number of legal implications intended to ensure buildings are sustainable and environmentally friendly. At the same time, products that can enable such sustainability are being continually developed and improved.
Over the past few years, local governments throughout the Middle East have introduced a number of regulations that have put increasing demands on the green credentials of projects and more legislation is set to be enforced in future.
With sustainability now firmly on the agenda for the construction industry, many projects in the region have been voluntarily designed and built according to a revised form of the US Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. The development of regionally-tailored codes has made it easier to comply with green building expectations and removed potential excuses of confusion over what's applicable.
With this in mind we have developed a special training workshop, which will take place during the event and deliver information on LEED ratings systems.
The LEED Workshop is set to identify the key components of the LEED Rating System and to discuss the overall LEED Certification process. There will be descriptions of the intents and associated concepts of each LEED credit category, with explanations of regulations, recognitions and incentives related to each credit category. This will help delegates recognize successful LEED strategies and measurements for achieving credit category goals.
What new technologies are designed to address these challenges? How profound would their impact be on the other sectors such as operations and maintenance, emergency planning, first response and urban planning?
GCC countries are one of the largest consumers of energy in the world with increasing population and growing construction sector. A recent world energy study showed that GCC countries rank second in per capita energy consumption. The demand for energy in the GCC is growing at a rate of 5.5 percent compared to the world average of 1.2 percent. We commissioned a report recently with Ventures Middle East, entitled 'New technologies utilized in the GCC market'. As you might expect new technologies across the HVAC and water sectors will have a significant impact on the industry.Air-conditioning is the biggest consumer of energy in a building but new technologies are being developed which use natural sources of energy that saves power and reduces maintenance costs compared to traditional systems.
Likewise, innovative plumbing and bathroom products means that there are substantial savings to be made in the usage of water.
Based on the Global Warming Survey, buildings account for 39 percent of total energy use, 68 percent of total electricity consumption, and 38 percent of total carbon dioxide emissions are from Green Building. How effective are the new technologies in curbing this?
An efficient HVAC unit can reduce a building's energy consumption by 35-40 percent, therefore, advacements being made in the HVAC sector are moving quickly and largely with sustainability in mind.
For example, Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) is a new technology which has become popular in the Middle East. The systems transfer heat by circulating refrigerant to evaporators, however, unlike traditional systems, in VRF once condenser can be connected to multiple evaporators. The systems can also modulate the amount of refrigerant sent to the condenser, depending on the demand for cooling or heating.
Air Handling Units can also be made more environmentally economical through the use of Enthalpy control technology, which helps to conserve electricity. This technology provides free cooling anytime the outdoor temperature is below the required system supply temperature. This means that cooling can take place when the external ambient air enthalpy (the term used to describe the combination of heat and moisture content) is less than the indoor air enthalpy and the cool external air is transferred to the building envelope either directly or indirectly.
There are already developments in the GCC using such technologies and seeing positive results.
High costs, including insurance, deter construction companies from introducing latest solutions. Do you still see Saudi Arabia as the major market in the region for the industry?
Absolutely. Saudi Arabia is one of the most influential and prosperous construction markets in the Middle East at present. International companies, many of whom are struggling to sell products in their home markets, are keen to showcase the products and services they can bring to this market. As a result The Big 5 Saudi has had to double in size in only its second year in order to accommodate the demand for space at the event, with 75 percent of exhibitors coming from international locations.
Consumers are demanding more options and upgrades in new homes, a trend that increases the bottom line for builders. What is your outlook for the construction business in Saudi Arabia 5 years from now?
Designers will need to meet the demands placed upon them by customers and as long as they have access to innovative new products at a good price, I don't see any reason why they won't meet the challenge.
The Big 5 Saudi will offer designers and contractors the chance to see innovative new products that have never been see in the Kingdom before so I hope we can help the process.
There is more than $640,000 million worth of construction spend planned in Saudi Arabia over the upcoming five years, with buildings - predominantly mixed use developments - making up the majority of this spend.
With infrastructure, power & water and the oil & gas industries all featuring significantly within this budget, the construction industry confirms itself as a key driver of the Saudi Arabian economy in the upcoming years.
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